What can you do to make your networking successful in 2012?
1. Big Events May Not Be Big – One of the mistakes I see a lot of well-intended people do in networking is to focus on “big” networking events. For example, I know dozens of people who will attend a 500+ person economic forecast and are sincerely expecting to make excellent connections. This same group of people call one on one coffee and lunches “a kind of waste of time” because you “just can’t get to as many people” in their minds. Focus on creating quality connections not running from one person to another. This same group of “networkers” like to be seen by others and think they are being noticed. But they are not deepening their relationships with key connections. It’s like people who want multiple connections on Linked In or add connections to Facebook and call networking or think about it as a game of numbers but it is a game of quality and qualified relationships.
2. Research Who and What – It’s really incredible to see people fly like flocks of birds to different business events with almost no purpose or if their is a purpose it’s all about finding a new client or making a connection for something you need. All of that is fine and the truth is something good can result from random pickings. In fact, sometimes it’s just good to get out and make yourself available and expect something good to happen. But to really make your networking effective do some research. For example, I worked with one of my job search clients on connecting at a social event. She developed a Core Contact List, Researched and Developed Questions for Key Contacts, and created a Timeline Action Plan for the event. One of her well-meaning friends who knew she was going to the event said: “That seems like a lot of work just to show up at an event. Your career coach makes you work.” Her friend is right. We did make her work. Her preparation paid off two because she went with a purpose and with an agenda. Ultimately the three of the four key contacts she intended to make were so impressed with her they invited her to coffee and lunch. A job offer that stemmed from this event was gained in less than 30 days.
Whether you are building your personal brand to advance your knowledge and career footprint or are in a confidential or non-confidential job search you must know your audience(s) when networking. You will work smarter and not harder and create new and unusually productive relationships that will help you accomplish your goals.